For the last week I have been experiencing everything with a bittersweet taste. Now that we have edged into April, this will only grow worse. The emotions I have been feeling are ones I haven't experienced since my last year in school. I loved school and enjoyed every day; I so desperately did not want to leave. Thus, each day then, although happy, was lived with a sense of desperation: knowing that it would all soon end and there was nothing I could do about it.
Every day now feels exactly the same as that. The weeks have shot past so quickly it's frightening. And now here we are with just two more weeks left of The Ladykillers, my job and life as I know it.
It is all but now cemented fact that after this the theatre will go dark, possibly for as long as two months. And so my group of friends front of house will be dispersed and never come together in the same way again. A couple are already planning an early exit in order to get a new job before we close. I am unlikely to ever see again the cast members I've got to know. I will miss the show so much. In fact, although it should probably be, being out of employment is one of the least of my troubles. April 14th is starting to loom like a beast in the darkness.
It is simply that I feel so happy and comfortable at the Gielgud. Everyone front of house gets on so well; we are like a big family. I have more self-confidence than I ever have before. I have met people whom I consider now to be amongst my closest friends in the world - the type of friends I can confide anything in. I love feeling so confident and competent at my job. I like having people backstage - cast and crew - waving at me from through stage door when they see me. It all makes me feel so at home.
As part of my desperation, I am savouring every moment. I am trying not to moan at work. I am laughing every night. I am seizing opportunities.
In an unusal last-minute twist, I have got to know the two actors I hadn't spoken to as much as the others previously. This has led to a couple of wonderful conversations this week which I hope to always remember...
On Wednesday night I came down to stage door at the end of the shift to wait for my friends. James and Marcia were there waiting for their taxi. Surpisingly, James greeted me by asking me how I was. We made small talk for a while when they asked what was next for the theatre. When I told them that when this closes there was nothing more planned and so us lot would be out of jobs, they were so genuinely shocked and concerned! Marcia offered lots of sympathy and arm patting. James was asking questions and looking concerned. Their car then arrived, and he said 'Oh, I shall worry about you now!' I thanked them profusely and tried to shrug it off in a 'que sera sera' kind of way, but their kindness made me feel so emotional.
The following night, a similar thing happened. I was there, again waiting for my friends (their slowness can be forgiven when it leads to these kinds of situations!) when James came out. He signed some autographs for people, then came over to me. "I've been worrying about you," he said. I told him that was very sweet and he went on: "I think you should work for a casting agents, you know." I told him I wasn't an actor. "That doesn't matter," he continued. "You're very clever." He said it was a pleasure to meet me properly (he'd only just connected my username online with my actual self) and left. Again, I was left bowled over by his kindness and amazed I'd just been given career advice by a well-known actor!
I can in fact summarise the advice I've been given by various members of our cast on what to do post-Ladykillers:
Marcia: general sympathy and good luck wishes.
James: become a casting agent.
Ben: 'flit to the next blossom'.
Stephen: 'drink at home, it's cheaper'!
I shall take and leave them as I see fit! SUCH a lovely bunch though. I have left a programme at stage door so they can sign it for me - will be a nice momento to keep after they have left.
In a more-uplifting bit of cast gossip, I had another hilarious conversation with Mr Miller. This time it was about Rich Hall, whom I had been telling him was in the audience that night. I asked if he knew him and he told me a tale of a time he'd got the train down from Edinburgh with him once. Apparently Rich said he was just going to get a sandwich, but instead of going to the buffet car, Ben saw him on the train platform! Of course, the train pulled out without him, leaving Ben with all of his bags (Ben imitated Rich's accent when reporting his speech). He concluded by saying that he next saw him a year later and the first and only thing Rich said was 'I got my sandwich'! By this time, my friends had appeared and Ben was distracted by his taxi arriving. As I greeted my friends, he walked off, but not before calling back 'Bye Rachel!'. I called back 'See you Ben!', to which my friends' jaws dropped a little :P
On Thursday I worked an extra matinee shift on 'Noises Off' at the Novello, starring Celia Imrie. That was really enjoyable: the play was fantastic and the theatre beautiful with friendly staff. Hoping it might be an option for a transfer.
Also this week, I met up with James (my not so little brother) and we had a lovely long lunch and walk in the sun (weather has continued to be glorious). We wound up at the theatre in time for my shift, and Phil permitted me to show him round backstage. It was great to poke around the set again and I think such a tour makes me officially a cool older sister?! Looking forward to James and Mum finally getting to see it on the 11th :)
Over six months ago I began this blog, not knowing if my new job would even extend beyond the end of November. I may be speaking a load of overly-sentimental hogwash today, but it's been an emotional week. Know that I could not be more grateful for what has happened since September. Reminding myself that everything that has happened to me so far has absolutely been for the best, and hoping the next adventure (whether it be working for a casting agency or sipping Tesco's own vodka alone in my room) is just around the corner.